Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicken and Mango Panini Quesadillas

I feel like a decade has gone by since I’ve posted, not having an oven has really limited my recipes during the week so I apologize for my MIA’ness. I found a great recipe for Chicken and Mango Quesadillas and decided to change it up a bit especially since I couldn’t bake my chicken, I had no peppers, and I decided to try my quesadillas using my new Panini maker. This is a unique way to change up a regular quesadilla and add some more healthy goodness to your dinner!
  • 1 lb. Boneless chicken breast tenders (about 8 tenders)
  • Small onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 mango diced
  • 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 4 Whole wheat flour tortillas
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Non fat sour cream and your favorite salsa, optional to garnish

Preparing the chicken 
1.     In a food processor, pulse the garlic until finely minced. Add 1/2 of the onion and pulse until the onions are well chopped, without becoming pasty.
2.     Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the chicken tenders. Put chicken in large bowl or plate and squeeze some lemon juice over each and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Spread the onion and garlic over each chicken tender and rub over chicken tenders. Marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preparing the Quesadillas
1.     Thinly slice the remaining half of the onion. Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and warm over a medium heat. Saute the sliced onion for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken tenders and let heat up for 4 minutes then flip over until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from heat and set aside. Now turn your Panini maker on…
*If you don’t want to sautee the chicken and have an oven, put marinated pieces of chicken on foil lined shallow roasting plan and preheat the oven to 375. Roast the chicken at 375 for about 30 minutes. The chicken should begin to turn golden brown. Slice the chicken tenders.

2.    Lightly brush olive oil over a tortilla and top 1/2 of the tortilla with cheese, sauteed onion, thinly cut scallions, sliced chicken, cilantro, and sliced mango. Fold in half and place on Panini and close it for 4-5 minutes while it cooks. You want to see the crispy Panini lines in the tortilla and then remove. Repeat with each remaining tortilla.
3.    Slice each quesadilla into three pieces. Garnish with salsa and sour cream as desired and serve immediately.

I also tried a new side recipe with rice. I boiled white rice and then I added a small dab of butter, salt, diced tomato, feta, and basil. It was delicious and super easy. I called it my Mexican meets Italian night! The mango with the chicken in the quesadilla was a sweet and savory taste and you just want to eat more and more...enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Meatballs with Krista

Sunday afternoon was dedicated to spending time at Krista’s (friend from work) with her 3 year old son Anthony, 8 month year old Gianna, and learning how to make meatballs, so I was super excited! Some things I learned was NEVER USE TURKEY MEAT if you want true Italian meatballs. Add egg if the meat is too hard and bread crumbs if meat is to soft and you need a large stainless steel pot that isn’t in a standard set of pots. Oh yeah, and make sure you have about 3-4 hours to make this all come together! Grab a friend and a bottle of wine and here we go..
Step 1-the meatballs
·         We used ground beef, pork, and veal meat that you can buy at the grocery store (same stuff you get to make meatloaf).
·         Heat olive oil with garlic slices in the bottom
·         Cut onions in small pieces and put in bowl with meat
·         Use 1 egg per pound of meat
·         A cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
·         Half cup parmesan and Romano cheese
·         Mix in parsley, seasoned salt, pepper, salt, and garlic salt
·         Roll the balls and drop in the pot in one layer
·         Wait till they brown and flip over
·         Remove meatballs, set aside in separate bowl, keep the oil and brokened up meat pieces in the pot (we will use this for our sauce)

Step 2-Sautéing Sausage
·         You can use Italian (hot) or mild (sweet) sausage pending on your taste buds
·         Use skilled and heat some oil
·         Cut sausages in the middle to take off the skin
·         Slice garlic cloves and add to skillet
·         Place sausages in skillet and cook on low-medium
·         Wait for them to brown and then flip over
·         Leave everything in skillet including juices (we will use this for our sauce)

Step 3-Time to make the Gravy!!
·         Go back to the big pot and add some more olive oil
·         Crush garlic and add to pot
·         Add I small can of tomato paste and stir
·         Add 2 tomato puree large cans and stir
·         Then add all seasonings again-no parsley though (only for meatballs). Next time I'm going to add some oregano
·         Stir for a bit
·         Add basil leaves to the pot (cut or uncut)
·         Then add 2 big cans of crushed tomatoes
·         Then add all the sausage with its drippings
·         Add some more garlic
·         Then add the meatballs and grease from bowl
·         Put on low and let sit for an hour to absorb all the deliciousness
·         After one hour do a taste test to see if you need to add any additional seasonings.

** This is Krista’s recipes so she adds flavors to her families tastes but this is where you can get creative and add the seasonings to satisfy how your family likes it!

Then voila! Cook up some pasta and you have homemade gravy and meatballs (and sausage!). You’ve probably made enough for the month so you can take storage containers and freeze some for later use! Krista gave me plenty to take home and I made angel hair pasta with meatballs and sauce and Anthony was impressed! Thanks Krista!

Oven-less this weekend so posting Kellie's dinner from Friday!

I’m so sad to say I was unable to cook over the weekend, not because I was too busy or was nervous about attempting these recipes, but I came home Friday night to yet another hole in my kitchen, and this time it involved the removal of my oven!! My thoughts exactly! It needed to be re-centered and we are getting a new microwave that sits on top of the oven to give me more counter space, but Ant didn’t advise me prior to when he was going to do this and of course on his day off, he decided to demo. Of course all this week I’m thinking what to make for dinner without the oven. I  can’t even make garlic bread!
So my best buddy Kellie from North Carolina shared with me today what she made on Friday after she had emailed me asking for some ideas to make a fun and tasty Friday night dinner at home. Since I haven’t blogged yet from the weekend, I told her I was going to share this with all of you. So she decided to make it easy and use what was left in her fridge from the week which is fantastic and we all should do this instead of just wasting food and leftovers that we are all guilty of! Here’s what she wrote to me today…
I  made some enchiladas last Friday night. I did a twist on a recipe I already knew - I was trying to use up some ingredients I already had. So I made beef enchiladas. I cooked the ground beef with taco seasoning, then mixed in a can of cheese soup and some green onions and cilantro and a little taco sauce. Then I wrapped em in tortillas and put them in a baking dish and covered them with enchilada sauce, Mexican cheese and baked it. Then I added black olives, cilantro and some white saucy Mexican cheese. 


Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall Harvest Wine Festival-October 23rd, 2010 1-6pm in Atco, NJ

Quick note from my fellow blogger Chef E..
Kick off the fall by joining in on the harvest and the fruits of a summer’s labor- Amalthea Cellars has agreed to partner up with Cultural Arts Expression- Performing Artists, a group of established New Jersey Musicians and Performance Artist and Poets in presenting a Fall Harvest Wine Festival, October 23rd, from 1-6 PM; that will include wine by the glass, a grape stomp, local art vendors, Randi’s Gourmet Foods, and a few new and upcoming authors reading from they’re works. Enjoy Amalthea’s well known Italian Buffet for $12 with a glass of your favorite wines rain or shine.

Bring your lawn chairs, and or blankets because it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the numerous varieties of Amalthea wines, as you sit in the sprawling grounds of their beautiful property and listening to some of the great sounds of blues, country, rock-n-roll greats, as well as original music of local writing talent from the New Jersey area. Tours of the property will be available upon request, as well as self guided vineyard tours.

The Fall Harvest Festival is going to be a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience the enchanting sights, sounds of the rustic Pine Barren region of New Jersey- The Pine Barrens of NJ is home to several excellent award-winning wineries that produce a wide variety of red and white wines, so it is not surprising that Amalthea has caught on to adding great music and talent to their repertoire of great wine and foods.

Performers Line-up: 
Eli The Hawk, Dennis Nobile, Flora Newberry and Mike Riley, Kevin John Allen, Red Dashboard, Danielle Steward, Howie Troutman, Amalthea’s own- Lou Harvey/Poet, Vox Poetica, Nancy Halter- Off The Record, and Barry/Andrea Hollander.

Check out WAMPP blog for more South Jersey Fall season event information at http://wampp.cookappeal.com/ 

Weekend recipe to-do lists...

Thought I would be proactive this weekend with picking out some recipes that I’m going to try over the weekend that look delicious! I am heading to the farmers market tomorrow morning where I hope to grab some  veggie/fruits, I still can’t believe the summer has come to an end, only a few weeks left of fresh summer produce! Here are the recipes I am going to attempt this weekend...

Crispy Potato Bites with sour cream and bacon by Sandra Lee. I saw her make these on Sandra’s Money Saving Meals on The Food Network last Sunday

Salsa Verde- this recipe is from one of my favorite blogs “Closet Cooking”

Chicken and Mango Quesadilla

I’ll update with pics and reviews over the weekend!

BTW-I just joined foodbuzz (food blog community) this week and love it! They have some amazing bloggers with even more ideas and recipes than you can imagine! I got the Chicken and Mango quesadilla recipe from there…Check it out http://www.foodbuzz.com/

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mighty OJ Juicer

In my recent cooking classes they have been using some hand held juicers and some of the recipes I have tried in the past couple weeks have called for one as well and I don't have one! So since I didn't have one, I improvised and then I finally added it to my registry. The other night while making Peanut Thai chicken in the crock pot, it called for lime juice and I squeezed as hard as I could and then asked Anthony for some assistance. He realized how tough it was to get the juice out. So to my surprise, I came home from work last night and saw a Crate and Barrel gift bag on my kitchen table with a note from Ant. I opened it up and he got me the Mighty OJ Juicer! It's so sleek looking with all chrome parts and kind of mimics the look of a transormer, hehe! At any rate, I was so surprised and so happy and was looking around the house for something to juice, but I came up empty handed. Does anyone have one and/or used it yet? Does anyone have a terrific juice recipe in which I can create something using this juicer this week?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Va La Winery-Avondale, PA

This past Saturday over Labor Day weekend, the weather was absolutely gorgeous  and so Anthony and I decided to take a little drive to Va La winery about an hour from us in Avondale, PA. Va La is in the middle of farmland and so very cute! 

This was Anthony’s first winery and wine tasting and we had a fun time! They had a jazz band playing outside while serving visiting guests wood oven bistro pizza’s as we lounged outside in the lounge chairs/tables after the tastings. Va La’s home vineyard contains 6.73 acres and the produce about 500- 750 cases of (4) different wines yearly.  Our wine tastings were paired with baguettes, foccacia breads and different cheeses that really went well together. Below are the wines we tasted with their pairings...

La Prima Donna (2007)-this is white wine close to a Pinot Grigio paired well with fish dishes, white sauces, and Asian cuisine. They served this with locally farmed goat cheese with honey. I’m not the biggest goat cheese fan, but the honey made it so tasty! 

Castana (2006)-this is a light red wine great for grilled meats, Bolognese sauces and Mexican cuisines. They served this with a sharp goat cheese and like I said, there is a huge different between a sharp goat cheese and the one prior I had with honey.

Siranetta (2007)-This is a red blend Syrah, merlot, petit verdot, cabernet. This wine goes great with beef, lamb, and red sauces. They served this with a medium bodied cheddar cheese that was perfectly paired!

Mahogany (2008)-my favorite and their specialty wine with flavors evolving towards leather, coffee, and dark chocolates. Paired well with lamb, prime rib, reduction sauces and aged cheeses. They served this with Focaccia, sharp cheddar, and a chocolate truffle.

Italian Night with Lauren-Lasagna 101

So much to catch up on! Hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day Weekend! This past Tuesday, 9/1/10, my girlfriend Lauren came over and we both attempted our first lasagna together after work. Word of the wise, leave lasagna’s for the weekends, it takes much needed  prep time and bake time, we didn’t eat until 9pm! But we kept each other company with wine glasses full and in hand as we caught up over weekly gossip! 

Anthony was our tester and we realized how much seasoning makes the difference. Just when we thought it was ready, we ended up putting more salt and oregano and made it much tastier! The lasagna came out pretty good for our first attempt. Two other things we learned was to use the appropriate sized baking dish and when you put foil on top of it to bake, make sure it’s not touching the cheese underneath, if it does, when you remove the foil ,you remove the top layer of mozzarella cheese too!

We also tried two different ways of making Caprese salads! Lauren used a premade bruschetta mix on top of mozzarella slices and I cut a tomato in half, made a bowl on the bottom piece and put layered diced tomatoes and mozzarella pieces topped with basil with balsamic and olive oil. We both forgot the salt though, which is a necessary seasoning for Caprese salads!

Monday, September 6, 2010


Hi Bees....your blog looks great, but no bears!